Market Harborough sits in an area of the United Kingdom that has the lowest density of standing woodland in the Country, currently England has only 9% of woodland coverage while Europe averages at over 40%. Leicestershire and Rutland together form one of the least wooded areas of England, with only 3.3% woodland cover and South Leicestershire has least coverage at only 2% cover.
This creates a lack of amenity for the local population and also poses problems as more and more households install wood burning stoves as a heat source to reduce their reliance on our declining natural gas reserves.
Harborough stove installers report that they are all very busy and this migration is matched by the price of wood fuel in the town, prices here can be nearly double of what is paid ten miles away in Kettering. A simple supply and demand issue.
Another issue with this shortage of supply is that the wood burnt is not properly seasoned. Some woods need up to three years of seasoning to drive the moisture from the cells of the wood. This has serious affects on the local air quality during cold weather and can cause chimney fires which are caused by prolonged usage of unseasoned wood gumming up the chimney flues with resin.
We would initially propose to run the cooperative as a wood fuel buying group and create a network of local sustainable woodfuel suppliers such as the Forestry commission and local estates who have access to managed woodlands, this will ensure a regular supply of quality, sustainable seasoned fuel.
We would also accept felled trees from local tree surgeons, both wood and wood chips.
In the next phase we would then unmanaged woodlands that can be commissioned to produce fuel through sustainable woodland management practices in a Community Supported Forestry model which would bring extra incomes to local farming communities.
The ultimate objective of this project would be to identify and purchase suitable land that can be planted out as woodland and managed equally for its biodiversity potential, public amenity (Site dependant) and woodfuel production potential.
To provide maximum benefit for bio-diversity in this Country woodland has to be managed as most woods are “Young” and therefore do not have the mix of dead, mature, juvenile and young trees. To artificially provide this mix selective felling must occur.